Stress Management book review

Posted by Jan Lawrence

Stress management

By Edward Charlesworth and Ronald Nathan

I recommend this book to my clients on a regular basis. The reason for this is that it looks at all the common themes found in stress related problems and breaks them down into manageable chunks. It doesn’t blind you with science, it just gives you practical things to do and to think about in terms of how you are living your life and the things you might want to think about changing.

Another thing I like about this book is that you can easily dip in and out of it – if there is an area of your life you want to focus on e.g. anger control, assertiveness, relaxation etc. you can read that section alone, you don’t have to read the whole book from cover to cover to get the idea (a common stressor when you have limited time!).

The first 3 chapters focus on understanding stress; how you respond to it, the challenges it provides and discovering where it comes from. The next chapter looks at the various options for beginning to manage your own stress.

Chapters 5-10 cover different aspects of relaxation from progressive relaxation, scanning your body for tension and breathing for relaxation, to imagery training.

Chapters 11-12 look at specific stressors. Recognising your own stress response, and having found a particular stressor you want to target, it takes you through a process of tackling that stressor.

Chapters 13-17 break your stressful behaviours, thoughts and attitudes into manageable chunks. Areas like life changes, how to reduce your physical risk (coronary heart disease), taking the stress out of what you tell yourself, anxiety and anger are covered here.

Chapters 18-20 discuss assertiveness which is often omitted from stress management books, even although I think it is something that is an integral part of managing stress. How do you manage your workload if you can’t say ‘no’ to people? If criticism is something that floors you for days, how can you expect to improve your performance?

Chapter 21 looks at time management, another weak point for many of us. It focuses on what you can do, and how to avoid the common pitfalls e.g.”time robbers”.

Chapters 22-23 look at exercise and nutrition, again these are good chapters to dip in and out of (although you might be better off going to the pool!).

Finally chapter 24 looks at putting all of this knowledge together, having realistic goals, how to pick yourself up again, keeping motivated etc.

It sounds like it might be the kind of book that you need an extra bag for, it isn’t. It’s a paperback and is small enough to carry around.

One word of caution: Reading this book alone is unlikely to manage your stress!! Like all the other stress management techniques it is one thing knowing about them and quite another to actually turn it into stress management. If you are tempted to buy it, plan to use the techniques too!! But remember, you can dip in and out of it, so reading the chapter relevant to you and doing something about that particular aspect could do the trick.